Preparing for war.
It is not some hapless endeavor one chooses to participate in on a whim. It is a higher calling, a beckoning to something greater yourself. A recognition of importance. For a cause.
So worthy is it that you are willing to lay down your life for it.
Or so you say.
This life is not easy. It demands discipline and calls for courage. Even people like me who have not been in the army understand that it is no walk in the park. And time stops for no man, not even young people in their twenties who believe their youth will keep them forever and death cannot touch them. What a lie. What a strategy, one of many, the enemy has from thousands of years of observation to pull the wool over our eyes. But praise the Lord that He planned a way for salvation and has thwarted him!
For a soldier, setbacks are to be expected. A longing for home and the ease of doing nothing will pounce. The temptation to quit or be discouraged may creep in to paralyze the soul from being effectively poured out in service for the kingdom.
I suppose this is one way a man’s character is revealed. In the face of adversity, who do the soldiers trust? For what do they fight? Whom do they serve? What are they willing to sacrifice?
Do they believe in what they are fighting for?
At the same time, a man’s character is equally revealed when the times are peaceful and the deceiving lull inclines one to feel at ease. As though there is no enemy ready to pounce like a ravenous lion with calculating eyes fixed on weak prey like you and me. Without a shepherd to protect and to guide, that sheep’s desire for life is futile and utterly foolish. And when a soldier decides all is well and boasts that the battle is won without understanding their circumstances – when they enjoy the spoil and brag of their “victory,” indulging in their desires rather than the will of their commander – they will soon learn that this life is not so. The attacks are coming. The enemy lies waiting. And for those who are truly soldiers, they will fight and it will cost them. But the victory is theirs through Christ.
A soldier understands that their Commander gives and takes away with wisdom and love, for His glory. And nothing brings them greater joy than knowing that they are permitted to be used, as weak as they are, in a mighty way to be a part of this master strategy. That they can rest assured in the promise that they will be grown more to be like the courageous, loving, wonderful Commander they serve.
A yearning stirs in my heart.
I want to fight.
And at first thought, I imagine donning the armor of God and charging full force into an epic battle scene, roaring until my throat gives out and darting ahead with the sword of the Spirit flashing in my hand.
Ephesians 6:10-17 exhorts:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVINGPUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And yet, this very desire reminds me of who I am.
For if I do not abide in Christ, I cannot have this desire to honor Him and to see His name glorified and praised in every tongue and in every nation.
For apart from God and without love, all I do in word or deed proves me to be a hypocrite with a grossly false understanding of Scripture and the holiness of the perfect God. And I tremble to think upon this affront.
For without His grace, I would not be able to do anything. If even every breath I take is a gift of life from Him, then how much more so is working for a cause of eternal value? I have no power to convince or save. Truly, only with God are all things possible – replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.
For on my own, I would be the greatest of sinners, blindly chasing after my own desires and not caring a whit that the Enemy has me shackled in his prison awaiting my doom, with my ears plugged and eyes gouged out so that I would not hear the truth or see myself writhing about in muddy lies that distort myself and the God Who created all things.
I am not called to fight on my own. That is foolish, and that is when I fall. But thanks be to God, Who is able and pleased to use weak vessels like me for His kingdom, to demonstrate His power! Calling His soldiers to live in obedience, living free from the fear of death and His wrath that Christ bore for them, and boldly sharing the truth in love that others may have the overwhelming joy of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ! To be still and know that He is God, and I but a slave so undeservingly adopted into His family. To acknowledge I am not my own, but His.
Oh, what a glorious King You are, Father! The old cross upon which Jesus died for my sins that set me free! And yet, how prone to wander and forget am I.
Father God, please help me surrender my will to Yours! I am so weak. Please use me as You will, however You will, for Your kingdom. Help me to trust in You – for You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Your love, justice, wisdom, and all else do not change with the winds that come and go in this tiny world you have created. You direct my steps with perfect wisdom, with all its battles, trials, and triumphs. Hallelujah! ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus and His work on the cross! And praise God that because of Him, the war is won and victory is assured!
1 Corinthians 15:55-58
55 O DEATH,WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.